Healthy vegan rice crispy treats made with Medjool dates and almond butter instead of marshmallows for a sweet sticky refined sugar-free cereal snack!
Gather all your squishy mushy marshy-mallows…and eat them straight from the bag while you make these mallow-less crispy treats.
Just because these squares don’t require a single marshmallow doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pick up a bag for casual snacking while you are in the area. And by area I mean the grocery store. Yes I do realize marshmallows aren’t usually located on the cereal aisle, but if you take the long cut from produce to cereal I’m sure you can work in a nohcalant marshmallow stop. Last time I was grocery shopping the entire marshmallow aisle was scented with the most glorious aroma of sugar and squishiness and I practically had to be dragged out of there.
But enough marshmallow talk for a marshmallow-FREE recipe.
It’s not that I don’t love pillows of fluffy sugar, it’s just that I love rice crispy treats even more (wait…did I just say that?) And I have been dreaming of the day I can finally make them without even a drop of non-fruity sugar for approximately my whole life.
Marshmallows have finally met their rice crispy-making match. A squishy sweet replacement to knock them right out of their sticky cereal treat spot. A replacement that is all natural. A replacement that is actually easier to find than vegan marshmallows. A replacement that makes these crispy squares taste like they accidentally fell into a bucket of caramel sauce only to be pulled out in the nick of time. I know you know what I’m talking about…
I am partnering with my friends at Natural Delights once again to bring you a deliciously date-sweetened recipe. A recipe that at one point I thought was impossible without sugar or syrup of some kind.
From someone as date-obsessed as me, why did i doubt the Medjool magic? Well lemme just tell you about my past experience trying to make unconventional rice crispy treats…
I’ve set out on this marshmallow-free and sticky syrup-less mission many times. The problem usually arises with the CRISPY part of the rice crispy treat goal.
Because you know how rice crispies will snap crackle and pop their way to sogginess if left in a bowl of milk for too long? Well the same sorta situation happens when they are mixed with a water-based date paste. Soggy. Sad. Mushy. Mess.
So water, milk, and cereal bowls were out.
Liquid things that will not make rice crispies soggy include: liquid sweeteners, oils, and nut butters. But I wanted these squares to be sweetened with only dates and oil-free as usual around here, so by process of elimination it had to be nut butter.
The key to preserving the crispy-ness is to make a date paste with only Medjool dates and nut butter, in this case I used almond butter. Obviously an especially runny nut butter is ideal here, as well as a high speed blender. A food processor will get you there eventually, but it may take some patience and lots of stopping to scrape down the sides. The end goal is a very thick sticky-sweet paste that will not turn the cereal soggy.
If you must add some kind of liquid because your nut butter is just too thick, maple syrup or coconut oil are your best options. Neither will ruin the crispy-ness, and just a few tablespoons should get things blending better. But hopefully that won’t be necessary.
There is one seemingly minor but not-to-be-missed step that I need to point out before we get to the fun part, and that is to heat the date paste before mixing it with the cereal. It won’t really melt or change in appearance at all, but trust me it’s important!
I made one batch with and one batch without this 30 seconds of microwave time, and wow did it make a huge difference. The non-heated batch was much harder to mix, and I ended up crushing far too many rice crispies trying. Plus the bars didn’t set as well in the fridge either. So whether you choose the microwave or stovetop method, heat up that sticky stuff and don’t make the same mistake.
That’s right, rice crispy treats can now officially be considered “wholesome” (whatever that means). So move them from the processed practically dessert list to the healthy practically breakfast list in your snack brainspace. Because cereal + fruit + nut butter is basically all that’s in these crunchy cubes-o’-crispiness, and everything on that list sounds on-the-go morning munching approved to me. Or lunchbox packable. Or dessert perfect. There are no date-sweeetened rice crispy treat consumption rules here.
Happy sticky cereal square snacking!
Date-Sweetened Vegan Rice Crispy Treats
- Prep Time: 45 minutes
- Total Time: 45 minutes
- Yield: 6 squares 1x
Healthy vegan rice crispy treats made with Medjool dates and almond butter instead of marshmallows for a sweet sticky refined sugar-free cereal snack!
- 3 cups crispy rice cereal
- 1 cup Medjool dates, pitted
- 3/4 cup nut or seed butter
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Pinch of sea salt
- In a high speed blender or food processor combine the Medjool dates, nut/seed butter, and vanilla extract.
- Blend to form a thick sticky paste, you will likely need to use the tamper or stop and stir frequently. If absolutely necessary you can add 1-2 tablespoons of either maple syrup or coconut oil to get it to blend. Do not add water or the bars will turn out soggy.
- Transfer the date paste to a bowl and microwave for 30-60 seconds to soften. Or heat on the stovetop until soft. It will not change in appearance, but makes it much easier to mix into the cereal so don’t skip this!
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the rice crispy cereal and salt.
- Add the date paste and mix until evenly coated.
- Press firmly into a baking dish lined with parchment or wax paper. Smaller dish = thicker bars, but any size works.
- Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or until firm.
- Slice and enjoy! They do not need to be kept in the fridge, but will last longest that way.
This post is sponsored by Natural Delights, but all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands that make Feasting on Fruit possible!
I made my own version of these a few months ago before I knew I could buy veg marshmallows! It was delicious!
So good right!? Who even needs vegan marshmallows anyways (me actually, because campfires without s’mores aren’t even worth the wood lol :D)
Dandies work great for campfires! My kids don’t even notice the difference from traditional marshmallows. I love substituting the marshmallows with a healthier option for rice crispy treats though 🙂
I cannot resist a real deal fluffy toasted marshmallow❤️ But yes, fun to have other options too!
Wow! I’ve been making rice crispy treats with brown rice syrup and nut butter, but this is a whole different animal! I love it. I wouldn’t make them very often just because of the rice syrup, but now with dates, I can have my treats and eat them too!! Yay for dates and your recipe! =)
I’ve made them with brown rice syrup many times too, but I fruit sugar only is always my top choice if I can find a way to make it work! And I may be biased but I think they actually taste even better this way too. Hehe yay–hope you love them 🙂
Thanks s much Natalie for this amazing recipe.
I’ll be sure to try it soon!
You are so very welcome Emily, I hope your turn out perfect 🙂
Oh my goodness! You are my rice krispy HERO!!! I love Rice Krispies but I have a serious problem with having marshmallows in the house. I eat them all by themselves before I ever get around to making the treats :-/ So this recipe is perfect. I’m running, not walking to the store to pick up the ingredients 🙂
Hahaha I relate to your marshmallow dilemma SOOOO much 😀 Well I hope these crispy squares are the perfect solution for you as well, enjoy!
Kaila @ Healthy Helper Blog says
I have been trying for MONTHS to nail a date sweetened rice crispy treat recipe!! You beat me to it and I am SO glad because these look BOMB. Love the addition of nut butter! I think that’s where I fell short. Will have to keep trying!!
Me too–such a seemingly simple but actually so tricky and usually soggy task. Nut butter is the key! Or at least it works well for me 🙂 Thanks Kaila!
Can PB2 be used in place of nut butter?
Also, what is the minimum amount of dates that can be blended in a Vitamix container if I wanted to make less that 6 bars?
Thanks so much!
Unfortunately the powdered stuff won’t work here since you have to add water to make it a paste and having water in the mix will make the cereal soggy. Sorry! This is probably the least you can blend easily in a vitamin, otherwise the tamper won’t be able to reach. But you can make the full amount of paste and just take half out and store it in the fridge for another batch later in the week or something!
Okay so first of all, you know what I’m going to say…dates!!!! SO happy to see a rice krispie recipe highlighting one of my most favorite ingredients EVER. I bet the sweetness totally shines and makes these incredible!! I can totally relate to the soggy, un-crunchy conundrum when it comes to making these, way too many sad fails to count, but it looks like you nailed it here! Also love how GIANT you cut them, part of enjoying a good rice krispie is the sheer volume and fun of it 🙂 these look absolutely amazing!!
I love how you always have to say “ONE of my favorite ingredients” because we can’t have bananas getting all jealous on us now lol 😀 They are so much yummier with the caramel undertone, and no sogginess–woohoo!! Well rice crispies do contain a fair bit of air so that means we have to cut each square bigger to make up for it, right? Actually I just used to love the massive ones from starbucks and so now I always cut mine huge too because it makes me happy 🙂 Thanks Sara!
Dorothy S says
I’ll be swapping our my brown rice syrup recipe for this date paste version for sure! These are great energy bites on a long hike or on the bike and accept additions well (i.e. dried tart cherries, pumpkin seeds, etc.). Yum.
I am loving the trail-mix-inpsired addition idea! I don’t think Ill be making the brown rice version again anytime soon, not only are these easier but I’d actually argue they are yummier too…but I may be biased 🙂 Hope you enjoy!
Meah Konstanzer says
Oooo mah goodness!! That date-y gooey texture looks amazing. I always love using dates as a sweetener since they add such a nice caramel taste. I think almond butter or cashew butter would be perfect to play up the caramel flavors. SO excited t try this 🙂 !!
Mmm yes, cashew butter would taste amazing here! I love that stuff so much I actually ration it for recipes since it’s so dang expensive lol. But I completely agree, dates are like a win-win–healthier and tastier too 🙂 Thanks Meah!
Dot McMurtray says
Can you substitute prunes instead of using dates? I hate the taste of dates.
Sure! They will be perfectly fruity and sweet with purses too–sounds delicious 🙂
Okay so I just made them and it was a huuge challenge as I’m recovering from eds and nut butters and cooking scares me a lot, but I did it and they are SOOOOOO good!!! Thank you so much for your awesome recipes, keep it up 🙂 you are great!! 💜💜💜💜
I am so happy to hear that you liked them but most importantly I am SO happy that you ventured to try them in the first place!! I’ve been there too, but nut butter (and all the other yummy/good parts of life) are absotulty worth recovery 🙂 Thanks for the feedback and much love to you <3
I am so happy to hear that you liked them but most importantly I am SO happy that you ventured to try them in the first place!! I’ve been there too, but nut butter (and all the other yummy/good parts of life) are absotulty worth recovery 🙂 Thanks for the feedback and best of luck to you <3
Nisha / @rainbowplantlife says
I love this grown-up version of a childhood staple in my house. Just as yummy and so much better for you. Your creative ideas always amaze me, Natalie!
Rice crispy treats were an essential part of my childhood snack life too, and lucky for me no one else in the house really liked them 😀 Thanks you Nisha for taking the time to comment and for you sweet words!
Has any one fed these to kids? I have been an “eggless” vegetarian since the early 70’s. kids & grandkids are vegan. BUT the grandkids are still picky eaters. Would love to try these.
I’ve had a couple of moms make them already with good feedback from their kids, but as I’m sure you know every kid is different and picky in their own way. They are quite sweet and sticky though, so I think they’d be a pretty safe bet 🙂 Good luck Nancy!
All knelt-up @ your stickey altar.
Lolol! The alter should be for whomever invented rice crispy treats–that person was a genius 😀
The Vegan 8 says
I love that you made these so healthy Natalie! They look so amazing and perfect and totally guilt-free! I love that they still remain crispy too! You rock! I make mine with almond butter and maple syrup and love them just as much as the marshmallow-y kind, but I do admit one of my favorite desserts in the whole world pre-vegan was traditional rice crispy treats! I don’t think I’ve had one since becoming vegan though because I have never found a vegan one, lol! Not that I recall though. But as good as they are, you don’t really feel all that great eating something SO loaded with refined sugar. I am betting Olivia would love these as well! She is not as picky as I am with dates and she loves bars made with them. I need to try these for sure! Love all your date-sweetened healthy treats!!
Maple syrup works too?? How have I never tried that? I always used to make them with brown rice syrup which is a pain because it’s hard to find and kinda hard to measure/work with, but I never thought to try good old maple. Good to know! Ha they were always one of my faves too–so classy of us 😀 Well if you do try them for her, I hope they are Olivia-approved!
The Vegan 8 says
Yes! I have a maple sryup and nut butter version in my Christmas Ebook last year….gingerbread spice flavor and they definitely do work! So good! Ha! I use a combo of coconut sugar, maple syrup and molasses and it works amazing! I agree with you on the brown rice syrup, so hard to work with and not very sweet either.
You are probably the one person who I KNOW can figure out a way to make rice krispy treats without marshmallows but still with allllllll the goodness a treat needs!
Ha! An unnatural obsession with rice crispy treats since I was a wee little one certainly helped. Saving the fluffy marshmallows for on the side 🙂
Hi Natalie, do you think I could use the peanut butter for this recipe or it will be too thick? And how long I need to heat the paste (I will do it on the stove)? Just so it is warm enough? Thanks!
Yep, peanut butter will be fine! A natural peanut butter would be best as those tend to be a bit thinner. And for heating it, not very long just until it softens so it’s easier to mix into the cereal. You don’t actually want to cook it. Hope they turn out well 🙂
Did it today with almond butter, but instead of rice cereals I managed to buy wheat cereal with honey, but I really liked the result, it is just amazing! Next time I will try to make it with rice cereals and add honey by myself to make it a bit sweeter 🙂 Thank you again for the recipe!
That sounds like a delicious variation, I bet the honey flavor tasted awesome mixed in too! I am so happy you tried the recipe and I hope the next batch is just as yummy 🙂
Hi – there seems to be some confusion with the labeling on this post. You mention it is GF (or in dietary terms Gluten Free). However, rice cereal is not, in fact, gluten or even grain free, as most are processed with wheat or in plants that cross contamination is likely. Can you please clarify what you mean by GF or re-label this post, please? Kind of disappointed I am not able to try this one after reading through. 🙁
Orla Illien says
What brand of rice crispy cereal do you use. As all the ones I can get my hands on have sugar in them. I have tried with brown rice. But it does miss that crunch.
I really love the One Degree Organics brand: https://amzn.to/2wJlXuq It is sweetened, but with coconut sugar and only 1 gram per serving which is a very small amount. And perfectly crunchy too 🙂
What on Earth did I do wrong?? The date paste won’t spread or stick to the cereal. I heated it and mixed everything together… But it is gonna crumble when I cut it😮
Hmm I’m not sure, did you change anything else like the nut butter by chance?
just used organic peanut butter…
Hmm that should work. Honestly idk, it’s really hard for me to say where the problem is without having been there myself. Sorry!
How well do you think these would last if shipping them to family for the holidays? My husband and I live overseas and usual ship time is about a week, sometimes up to two weeks..
Hmm not well to be honest. With potential heat and just time I think they will be stale and possibly a sticky mess by the time they arrive. Sorry!
I made this yesterday and it didn´t go so well. The date mixture didn´t become very smooth, I guess you need a supergood blender for this. It took a long time to get it kinda smooth, with a lot of scraping down the sides. Than I mixed it with the rice and it became soggy within a few minutes. It tasted okay, because what´s not to like about pb and dates, but the crispys were soggy and I ended up throwing them out.